Published by Berkley Trade
Paperback 320 pages
Received finished copy for review from publisher
Two chapter sample available from Goodreads-Preview of Viral Nation
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Synopsis- After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.
Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.
When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.
Don't forget that I have a giveaway going on for this novel HERE.
I really loved this novel! There's a little bit of something for everyone in it. A little bit of romance, a little bit of evil, a little mystery, and a whole new apocalyptic world to explore.
The characters- There are a lot of characters in this novel and the secondary characters play a big role in this novel so it's hard to just explore main characters. I'll say this- they are all very important.
West Donovan is the older brother in the Donovan family. This is a guy who puts his life on hold to take care of his sister. He helps the little old lady next door get her rations. He put his dreams on hold so his sister didn't get sent to live in the nightmarish Foster City, a place adults pretend is a reputable and caring institution for taking care of the orphans left behind after the virus killed so many. West is a really good guy. He's so patient with Clover. He is really easy to like. He worries a bit. But I guess that's what older brothers do.
Clover Donovan is West's younger sister. She is very intelligent. She is direct to the point of being rude, though not intentionally. She is stubborn. And she is autistic. All these things work in her favor. There is no way you can't like Clover. I laughed when something unexpected came out of her mouth and got pissed when she was bullied. I loved seeing the world through Clover's eyes. It was very cut and dried, decisions made based on fact, not emotions. But then little loopholes started getting thrown in or I guess I should say monkey wrenches and it was interesting to see Clover work through those. And romance? How she handled that was interesting as well. She is a very lovable character.
Then there's Jude. Clover meets him at the Academy reception. They are two kids that don't fit in with the rest of the crowd there. Jude is from Foster City. He likes Clover's service dog, Mango and puts her at ease. But it's how they know each other later on that's really interesting and what Jude reveals about himself that makes him such a great secondary character. He really rocks!
And Bridget. I couldn't get if she was flighty spoiled rich girl in the beginning or just thrust into this role of headmaster's daughter and she didn't know what to do with it. But she finally develops into a full character and I understood her.
There's Mrs. Finch, Isaiah, and Clover's trainer Leanne. They have bit parts yet play a huge part in the story.
I won't tell you who the bad guy is....
The world- The story takes place in post apocalyptic Reno Nevada. There are a lot of empty buildings and it isn't very crowded. A virus swept through the world and killed 95% of the population before a cure was found. People have portals on the back of their necks where they get a vaccine daily to keep the virus from coming back. Children are educated up to the age of 16 when they are allowed to test for the Academy, apply to work for the Company or work for the government. If you work for the Company, you live in the barracks. West couldn't work for them because he had to take care of Clover. Crime prevention is done by having time travelers go two years in the future and find out who was going to commit a crime and if it was a capital offense, the person is executed. Lesser offenses seem to be ignored. Such as the crimes committed in Foster City. It is not a perfect system. Food is scarce. So is electricity and other goods like candles, toilet paper, clothes, etc. Everything is reused. The world building is excellent.
The story- I understood how the world got to the state it was in and how it was trying to come back from it's state of almost dying out. I thought the added element of time travel made this story a lot more interesting than other dystopians. There isn't a lot to the time travel, but it makes the crime prevention story believable and what happens in the plot necessary. People drop like flies or don't...because there can be many different time loops you aren't sure what's true or not. But I was definitely worried through a lot of the book when I realized Shaunta Grimes wasn't shy about killing off important characters.
My thoughts- Can I just say again.... I LOVED it! Clover was funny and so sweet. I wanted to hug her so many times even though she would have pushed me away, she's not a hugger. I loved the relationship between West and Clover. She never saw all the ways he took care of her until she had to function without him. Even then, I'm not sure she noticed, but as a reader, I did. When Clover takes care of herself, she's very resourceful. She did a great job. I loved how the time travel element was brought into the story. Everything really clicked into place to me. It wasn't the same tired old dystopian. In a genre that is overrun with viruses, zombies and natural disasters, Viral Nation really stands out.
Again, I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review. This did not influence my review. The opinions expressed are my own.